The future of work will be fundamentally different from the past. COVID-19 forced white-collar employees around the world to work remotely.
Employees proved that they could be productive at home – sometimes they were even more focused than they had been in the office.
Some workers took it further than working from home. Instead, they decided to relocate out of big cities now they were no longer commuting to the office every day.
The accommodation booking service had its most profitable fourth quarter ever in 2021 – its earnings reached $333 million, and its net income hit a record $55 million.
This is closely linked to Airbnb providing a place for people to work away from home for a little while. Over the past two years, the company saw average trip length increase by 15%. In addition, almost half of all Airbnb guests were staying for more than a week, and, in the fourth quarter, two week or longer stays accounted for 27% of all nights booked.
So now, Airbnb has decided to fully embrace working from anywhere for its own workers.
Airbnb embraces living and working anywhere
Airbnb’s new future of work model allows employees to work anywhere, but also ensures that they can collaborate in-person. According to Chesky, “Zoom is great for maintaining relationships, but it’s not the best way to deepen them.”
“The right solution should combine the best of the digital world and the best of the physical world. It should have the efficiency of Zoom, while providing the meaningful human connection that only happens when people come together. We have a solution that we think combines the best of both worlds,” Chesky wrote.
Airbnb’s new workplace model has five tenets.
The first is that employees can choose where they work. “Each of us works best in our own ways, and we’re giving you the flexibility to make the right choice based on where you’re most productive.”
However, there are a few roles that will remain location dependent; Chesky did not go into detail about the types of jobs that would be affected.
Chesky added: “I trust you, and flexibility only works when you trust the people on your team. You’ve shown how much you can accomplish remotely.
“In the last two years, we navigated the pandemic, rebuilt the company from the ground up, went public, upgraded our entire service, and reported record earnings, all while working remotely. It’s clear that flexibility works for Airbnb.”
Second, Airbnb workers can move anywhere in the country they live without any change in salary – in fact, those that currently live in a lower location-based salary tier will get a pay rise in June.
“You’ll have the flexibility to do what’s best for your life—whether that’s staying put, moving closer to family, or living in a place you’ve always dreamed of”, noted Chesky.
Importantly, Airbnb is not currently able to support “permanent international moves”, but it will allow employees to work from anywhere for short stints from September.
Employees will be able to live and work internationally for up to 90 days at a time – however, “everyone will still need a permanent address for tax and payroll purposes” and employees will be responsible for getting the proper legal authorization to work from anywhere.
Chesky continued: “Most companies don’t do this because of the mountain of complexities with taxes, payroll, and time zone availability, but I hope we can open-source a solution so other companies can offer this flexibility as well.”
The fourth element is around in-person connection; Airbnb will organize quarterly in-person gatherings for up to a week at a time in 2023. It expects to also hold social gatherings in 2022 as well.
Finally, to help with efficiency, US employees will operate on Pacific Standard Time, and the whole company will arrange its workflow around two major product releases every year in May and November.
It is clear that Airbnb sees this working from anywhere model, that also encourage in-person collaboration, as important for talent attraction and retention amid the ‘Great Resignation’.
Chesky noted: “We want to hire and retain the best people in the world (like you). If we limited our talent pool to a commuting radius around our offices, we would be at a significant disadvantage.
“The best people live everywhere, not concentrated in one area. And by recruiting from a diverse set of communities, we will become a more diverse company.”
Are you ready to take the leap and embrace the ultimate flexible model: working from anywhere?